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will be redeemed. This he confirms by a quotation from Isa. lix. 20, 21, which, however, is not conformed to either the Septuagint or the original Hebrew in anything except merely the statement that the deliverer is coming. In the original, he is represented as coming to or for Zion, and to or for those that turn from iniquity in Jacob. This common inexactness of the New Testament writers, in quoting from the New Testament, would seem to indicate that they did not depend on reproducing even the sense of the particular passage quoted, but simply on recalling the general spirit or drift of the Old Testament, which they clothed in such familiar Scripture language as came to them.
The summing up of this part of the discussion is that on the basis of the Gospel, which is the present standard of judgment and distinction among men, the Jews are enemies of God, because they do not exercise toward it that faith which is the divine requirement under it. But this enmity is also on account of the Gentiles, who, because of it, find the Gospel open to them. But on the ground of election, in which Paul has shown that the final choice of individuals rests on individual faith, but also that there may be choice of a nation or a family as a provisional matter, - a general or probable selection, based on the hereditary transmission of spiritual dispositions leading to faith, — the Jews are beloved on account of the faith of their fathers. This actual faith in them has produced germinal and possible faith in their descendants, and so God has never been left without an actual people among this nation, who are all his in posse if not in esse.
The reason that is given for this statement, that, according to election, the Jews are beloved, is that the gifts and the calling of God are unrepented. Having bestowed gifts on a people, and called them to Himself, God does not repent and recall them. As we have seen, He continues the gifts, transmitting them from father to son by the law of heredity; and so, the people that God once calls, remain His. Paul, evidently, makes a distinction here between the call of individuals and that of a nation. He sees in one the proof of sporadic and incidental traits that tend to run out and disappear; and in the other, indications of more essential and deeply seated qualities that remain as permanent national traits. Of course they are subject to the mutations that inhere in moral actions and states as such ; but, relatively, they are permanent. One nation has the gift and calling of intellectual greatness, another of superiority in art, another of moral pre-eminence; and these are more enduring than the same things in individuals. And Israel is seen by the apostle to have the permanent national trait of religiousness that makes it, in spite of partial defections, the beloved people of God. This he proves by rehearsing again the course of God's providential dealing with both Jews and Gentiles, in which the latter are shown to have been disobedient, but to have had the door of mercy finally opened to them through the disobedience of the Jews; and, on the other hand, the Jews, whose disobedience has procured this mercy for the Gentiles, are themselves ultimately to be restored to God's mercy, through the mercy shown to the Gentiles. God's purpose, that is to say, in the present rejection of the Jews, is not that rejection itself, but mercy to the Gentiles, and, ultimately by means of that, mercy to the Jews. The latter's defection and rejection are thus not final nor vindictive, but temporary in their effects, and gracious in their purpose. And this Paul shows to be characteristic of all God's dealing with sin. By His own law of moral continuance and progress by means of natural consequence and heredity, He shuts up sinners to their sin. But this legal and natural effect of sin He supplements by His own gracious action, working under the same law; and so the present consequence of sin in the race always looks forward to a final redemption. God shut up all unto disobedience, in order that He may have mercy on all. And the same laws of moral action, influence, growth, and transmission, which made the universal prevalence of sin necessary, are those which render a final, universal redemption possible.
And so, finally, before this contemplation, — not of God's absolute and unaccountable judgments, but of a wisdom that grows continually in depth and brightness, as we contemplate it, - the apostle exclaims : “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God !” And, in the same connection, he means, by the unsearchableness of God's judgments, not that they are based on principles unknown or undiscoverable by man, for his whole discussion has been a searching out of the principles and methods of God's dealing with man, but that they are full of a boundless wisdom and knowledge that outreaches all the pursuit and discovery of man. Moreover, the reason given shows another idea contained in the language. God's ways are so based on absolute wisdom and knowledge that man cannot foreknow or determine them. Otherwise, he might know not only the ways, but also the mind of God, and might share His counsels.
But the apostle does show the impossibility of establishing any orig. inal claim on God. Everything is from Him and through Him and for Him; all being is from Him and in Him; and all the action of moral beings, while it is free, is yet so preceded and shaped by the divine action,
that it cannot constitute an original claim on the divine judgment, but becomes only an acceptance or rejection of the divine grace. This is the key-note of the apostle's thought; the immanence of the infinitely gracious and wise God, who does not leave men in individual isolation to work out their own destiny and receive a judicial award, but so binds men together, in each other, and in Him, and makes for them a world of gracious influence and association in which to dwell, and Himself dwells in them a constant source of light and love, that what they are, whether good or evil, receives its character from the free action of men, not in a world made by themselves, but in God's world, where the great tides of the ceaseless, divine activity are the central fact.
The Historical Testimony of the Prophet
BY PROF. H. FERGUSON.
CHE prophecy of Zephaniah is stated (i. 1) to have been uttered
in the reign of Josiah the son of Amon, King of Judah. The contents of the prophecy are entirely in accordance with this statement, and the authenticity of the book has never been questioned. To decide exactly to what period of the reign of Josiah it belongs, is more difficult. It was evidently, however, written before (but not long before) the destruction of Nineveh ii. 13-15), which event took place, according to the most generally received chronology, B.C. 606, some five years after Josiah's death. From the expression “remnant of Baal” (i. 4), and from the general tone of zeal for Jehovah, and reproof and reproach for his enemies, we may conclude that it was written after the beginning of the reformation of Josiah, in the twelfth year of his reign ;1 and probably after the discovery of the book of the Law, in his eighteenth year. It is therefore in the last nineteen years of Josiah's reign that we place the date of this prophecy; and as the “King's children "2 are denounced in it, it is most probable that it was not delivered until towards the end of this period, as otherwise these would have been too young to be responsible for their actions, or to inerit such bitter reproof and denunciation, since at the time of the discovery of the Law, Jehoiakim was only twelve years old, Jehoahaz only ten, while Zedekiah was not even born. We cannot be far wrong if we put the date of the prophecy at or near the twenty-fifth year of Josiah (B.C. 617-616).
So Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Rosenmüller, Jahn, Bleek, Hitzig, Keil, Delitzsch. De Wette (Schrader) considers it to belong to the first years of Josiah, before the Reformation began; so also Ewald and Hävernick.
2 On this point the majority of modern commentators are inclined to consider that children of some former king are meant; but the reasons adduced are not convincing, and there is no clear example of such a use of the phrase (II. Chron. xxii. 11, cited by Hitzig, does not seem to me to sustain his point).
Of the prophet himself nothing is known. He is described as the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah (i.q., Hezekiah). From this genealogy some have been inclined to consider him of royal blood, and a descendant of Hezekiah, King of Judah, the great-grandfather of Josiah. This can, however, be nothing more than a conjecture. More probably he was of priestly family, perhaps related to that Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, who was “second priest” at the time of the destruction of the Temple (II. Kings xxv. 18; Jer. xxi. 1, al.). For other instances of the name, all in the tribe of Levi, see I. Chron. vi. 36; Zech. vi. 10, 14.
In his prophecy, Zephaniah foretells the sure coming of the Day of Jehovah ; i.e., of Jehovah's triumph and vengeance. When it shall come, Jerusalem shall be destroyed and the land depopulated. The Philistines, Moab and Ammon, shall be utterly destroyed, and their land eventually possessed, by the remnant of Judah. The Ethiopians also shall be slain by the sword. Assyria shall be destroyed, and Nineveh be made a wilderness. But the prophecy is not without its brighter side and note of promise, and foretells that, after Jerusalem shall have been punished, a remnant shall still be left which shall return, and shall be richly blessed, and shall be made a name and a praise among all people. Such, very briefly epitomized, are the contents of the prophecy.
But the book also bears witness to the condition of the people at the time it was written, and we may find in it some facts in regard to the social and religious condition of the people at the time of Josiah's Reformation, not elsewhere given with equal explicitness. The writer was an ardent supporter of Jehovah, and as such was doubtless in thorough sympathy with the band of reformers, who were struggling against heathenism and idolatry, and the attendant and inseparable immorality. Very probably he was joined to them, also, by ties of blood ; if of the royal seed, being related to Josiah ; if, as is likely, his grandfather Amariah was the priest of that name in the reign of Hezekiah (II. Chron. xxxi. 15), he was nearly related to Hilkiah and the other priestly reformers. It must always be remembered that Josiah's reformation was not at all a popular movement, but was carried with a high hand by the zealous and enthusiastic king, only to give place to a renewal of the former indifference and idolatry after his death at Hadad Rimmon. It is too much to say, as wellhausen does ("Encyclop. Britt.," art. Israel), that the people observed the covenant during Josiah’s lifetime. Such might be considered to have been the case were the books of Kings and Chronicles our